The COVID-19 outbreak has had a dramatic effect on American lives, from bustling New England to the plains of Oklahoma and up to the Pacific Northwest. Businesses across sectors have shut down — restaurants, gyms, bars and retail stores, just to name a few. And as we all continue to shelter in place, the debate about what is considered “essential business” continues.
At time of publication, 45 of the 50 states have at least a partial stay-at-home order. While many Americans are trapped inside, with some lucky enough to work from home, another 22 million Americans are currently unemployed.
Among the businesses that have been deemed essential, businesses that sell or produce food have remained open, as well as financial institutions and businesses that sell medicine. So, where does that leave dispensaries that sell medicinal or recreational cannabis? Find out which states are currently deeming dispensaries essential, and what this will mean for medical and recreational cannabis use during COVID-19.
The States That Have Deemed Cannabis Essential
Despite retaining its criminal status at the federal level, recreational cannabis is now legal in 11 states, plus Washington D.C. Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is legal in 33 different states. But legal and essential are two very distinct concepts in the age of coronavirus.
Even with stay-at-home orders in place throughout the US, residents of states with legalized marijuana won’t have a problem buying, as cannabis is considered an “essential” business, just like grocery and liquor stores, with 24 states even allowing curbside pickup. Find the full list of states with shelter-in-place orders that currently consider weed essential below:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
According to New Frontier Data, all 29 jurisdictions under a stay-at-home order where cannabis is also legal have deemed cannabis businesses “essential” meaning you’re still able to purchase weed even with a stay-at-home order. Additionally, the legal cannabis business remains open for 12.9 million adult-use consumers and 2.3 million medical marijuana patients. Consumers in essential markets will spend about $1.4 billion per month on cannabis, according to New Frontier Data.
As some states still remain on the fence about cannabis legalization, the classification of marijuana as an essential service during a pandemic could signify a dramatic change in perception of weed and weed use. Once the dust settles around COVID-19, cannabis legalization could be up for debate again at the federal level.
What This Means for Legalization in the Future
It’s hard to know exactly what the financial, social, and political impact of the Coronavirus will be. Many of the hardest-hit states are already experiencing significant drops in revenue with greater hits projected in the coming months. New York state, for example, is predicted to drop nearly $7 billion in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with no hope to make any of that revenue back from the booming recreational cannabis industry which brings states like Colorado nearly $300 million in tax revenue every year.
In Arizona, New Jersey and South Dakota ballot initiatives to legalize adult use of cannabis will reach state legislature desks this coming November, which will legalize adult use of cannabis. New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island also have pending marijuana legalization bills that could legalize cannabis through the legislature and make it possible for these states to receive revenue from recreational marijuana sales as a means of COVID-19 financial relief.
As states continue to designate marijuana essential throughout quarantine and reap the economic benefits of the cannabis industry, the chances for federal marijuana legalization may increase as part of the effort to boost the economy. Cannabis can be a big source of revenue for governments as well as essential medicine for those who suffer from illness.
In the coming months as we continue to shelter inside, support dispensaries and small businesses in your area by taking advantage of delivery services, if your state allows, or curbside pickup. You can use helpful sites like Leafly Finder to find dispensaries or delivery services in your area, and be sure to improve the air quality of your home after you light up or bake another batch of cannabutter with Cannabolish. Cannabolish Odor Eliminating Sprays, Candles, and Gels are discrete, odor absorbing tools to rid the air of smoke molecules and leave your kitchen smelling fresh.